Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publication Date: July 16, 2005
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Audible (Jim Dale editions)
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The war against Voldemort is not going well: even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of The Daily Prophet looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.
And yet …
As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate, and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.
So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort – and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Half-Blood Prince has been one of my favorite movies for years, and I was excited to see if my thoughts on mirrored that enjoyment or not. The last two books in the series are the ones I’ve read the least. I think I’ve only reread Half-Blood Prince once or twice, and Deathly Hallows once, meaning that a lot of book-only stuff I’ve forgotten over the years. Like the previous reviews, spoilers will be included as well as this review being disjointed an all over the place.
I knew from online posts that we lost a lot of sassy Harry, between him telling Vernon that he’s constantly listening to the news because “it changes every day” in Order of the Phoenix to the classic “there’s no need to call me sir, Professor” in this book. I know there are some other gems as well that I was excited to rediscover.
I really enjoyed how the adults in Harry’s life were quick to call out the Durselys for making Harry’s life hell unnecessarily using subtle jabs. In this book, we had Dumbledore inviting himself in for a drink and explaining to Harry the change in the wizarding world now that Voldemort’s return had officially been confirmed by the ministry.
I actually forgot about the Ministry using Fudge to update the muggle Prime Minister about the updates due to Voldemort’s return. That scene was handled really well and also shows Fudge’s fall from grace after spending the whole last year covering everything up and making Harry a scapegoat.
“When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love.”
This book also has the most romance out of all of the books. Reading it as an adult, I thought it was handled well, though the verbiage of a creature “waking up” inside Harry whenever he saw Ginny was a bit much. Describing hormones for teen characters is always a touchy subject, but I know there has to be better verbiage out there. That being said, the base emotions and complications between entering relationships during the teen years I thought was done really well. I liked how Ron was retroactively jealous about Hermione and Krum, Hermione was jealous over Ron and Lavender, and how Harry was jealous of the thought of Ginny with anyone else, but didn’t want to ruin things with his best friend. I also liked how this series didn’t rely on romance and relationships that much overall but acknowledged it was a real thing that 16-year-olds were going to start developing feelings for each other. Definitely not a main plot of the book, but certainly a subplot.
I also thought the Harry/Draco subplot was handled so well. It made perfect sense that everyone thought Harry was reading too deep into everything when he began to accuse Draco of becoming a Death Eater. It was no secret these two never liked each other and Draco is presented WAY worse in the books, but Harry also became obsessed with each of his movements and reads everything back into his theory. It doesn’t matter that he ends up being right, Harry still had such little evidence to go off of and just blamed a kid he didn’t like. Part of me almost wishes Harry didn’t end up being right, but I still thought everything was handled really well. Also, the fact that Draco was cracking under the pressure and confiding in Myrtle. I really think this is where we started to see the real Draco, and where his redemption arc could’ve started.
I’m just gonna say it. Voldemort’s back story was done SO WELL. I remember being so gripped by the pensive lessons when I first read this book and they still hold up today. Finding out about Merope’s family and Voldemort’s upbringing was just so interesting. I really liked how we also got a glimpse at the Horcruxes before we knew what they were. In Deathly Hallows, it feels like Harry has this impossible task to locate them, but knowing how sentimental Voldemort was and how proud he would’ve been of his heritage led to some super interesting easter eggs. Even without knowing the significance of Marvollo Gaunt’s ring or the locket, readers find themselves tuned into the objects and connecting the dots with Harry in the remainder of this book and during Deathly Hallows.
“Once again Harry, I must ask too much of you.”
The retrieval of the locket and Dumbledore’s subsequent death is one of the saddest book scenes there is. I personally sobbed harder at Beyond the Veil, because there’s the moment of hope, that everyone is going to be okay. But in this book, you feel the death coming. That being said, I still loved how it was handled. I really think the emotion in this scene was captured so well in the movie. You really feel Draco’s hesitance to complete the task and Harry’s horror at watching Snape actually kill Dumbledore. Like making readers, I was shocked when it happened, and upon the reread, the blow still hurts.
The dark tones of this book really is one of its strengths. Readers are forced to understand how dire the situation of Voldemort’s return is and loses this powerful figure in the process. While there are some light moments, the whole tone of this book really is dark. I also really enjoyed how many recurring themes and characters cropped up in this book. You see Harry’s past few years of Quiddich help him lead a strong team, you see Dobby and the house elves, Hagrid and some familiar creatures, and more day-to-day life at Hogwarts. Harry and his friends have to deal with being kids and thrust into this adult/leadership role. Overall, I am so happy this book still holds up, though I’m aware that the film adaptation of some scenes definitely helped that along.